Doch drohnenfähige Handydaten!

Cell phone data are droneable after all!

Last summer Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst or BND, admitted they’d been sharing phone data with U.S. intelligence agencies for years but said it was okay because cell phone data couldn’t be used to locate people and something about the N.S.A. promised not to use German-supplied phone data to kill anyone. Regarding the first claim, whistleblowers from U.S. drone programs have now explained to reporters how phone data were used for targeting assassinations around the world.

One whistleblower, describing countermeasures persons of interest have taken to keep using phones while evading geolocation and how these countermeasures can deliberately or accidentally increase the drone strikes’ already terrible civilian casualties, called the U.S. drone programs “little more than death by unreliable metadata.”

Details from the article and online discussions included:
“Pods” on U.S. drones (and presumably on urban utility poles because this might be what police have been quietly installing in U.S. cities using Dept. of Homeland Security funds) can spoof cell phones into providing data and can vacuum information off wifi networks from altitudes of four miles. Telecommunications standards in some “countries of interest” make it possible for many users there to share data the U.S. uses to identify targets’ cell phones. Wireless “party lines” quietly shared by pools of low-income civilians increase the chances that countries indulging in drone assassinations will accidentally kill party line participants and their families and neighbors, or be tricked into killing their enemies’ enemies, such as by firing missiles at wedding parties or legislatures after someone hides a cheap phone there.

(Daw chh   drone nen fey igga   HEN dee dotten.)

Null Null Sieben

The 007 license plate of the car that dropped off Chancellor Merkel at the E.U. summit on 24 Oct 2013 in Brussels, where the hot unofficial topic was outrage at revelations about U.S. spying on the German chancellor’s cell phone and in previously-unknown but huge volumes in France. Possibly also Italy, including the Vatican. And now Spain.

“Spying on your friends is not okay.” —Angela Merkel (C.D.U.)

“That would represent an entirely new quality, and cast a new light on all statements made by the N.S.A. in the past few months.” —Ronald Pofalla (C.D.U.), who as Kanzleramtschef, the chancellor’s chief of staff, is responsible for coordinating and monitoring Germany’s intelligence agencies. He had declared the scandal over last summer in response to assurances from the U.S.A.

“We will not allow ourselves to be treated like that by the Americans. The trust has been harmed. I think a few things have to happen now before this trust can be restored.” —Hans-Peter Friedrich (C.S.U.), interior minister

“The Americans are not fully aware of the situation. And then you’re told things like, ‘but everyone spies on everybody.’ And that’s where you have to say loudly and clearly: that is not okay. Friends are not allowed to eavesdrop on friends. And how would people react in America—this is what we’re saying on our visit here, how we’re describing it—if the Bundesnachrichtendienst were to spy on the U.S. president.” —Elmar Brok (C.D.U.), chair of the European Parliament committee for Foreign Affairs, currently visiting Washington D.C. to complain

“The chancellor’s cell phone is important, but the private and business communications of normal burghers is just as important. We will stand up for the protection of the basic rights of German citizens[…]” —Thomas Oppermann (S.P.D.), chair of the Bundestag’s Parlamentarisches Kontrollgremium intelligence committee that is tasked with but not always successful at monitoring and controlling Germany’s intelligence agencies. Mr. Oppermann may be hoping to become the new Justice Minister, replacing Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (F.D.P.).

“What sort of terrorists are they trying to find in the chancellor’s cell phone? This is a really absurd indication that the reasons they’ve told us so far absolutely cannot be true.” —Christian Ströbele (Green Party), member of the Parlamentarisches Kontrollgremium intelligence committee

“It’s good that the clarification of the facts appears to be starting, now, and that at least a healthy distrust vis-à-vis the American intelligence services also appears to be arising, now.”  —Steffen Bockhahn (Leftists), member of the Parlamentarisches Kontrollgremium

“The German government now mistrusts all claims and assurances made by the U.S. government in the entire N.S.A. affair. Now that we know they bugged the chancellor’s cell phone, the U.S. government can no longer sustain its claim from last summer that it did not injure Germany’s interests. It did, and representatives of all parties agree on this, utterly deceive Germany.” —Ulrich Deppendorf, ARD studio head and news editor-in-chief

“I think we should be honest that we have the capacity to obtain information that we didn’t have before. What we need now is the appropriate legislation that ensures we are not seeking or not using the capacity that we have.” —Fredrik Reinfeldt (centrist Moderate Party), Prime Minister of Sweden. (Approximate quote; his original English was drowned out by the German translation.)

“So we have to think about what we need. What data protection agreements do we need, what transparency do we need. We stand between the United States of America and Europe, before shared challenges […]” —Angela Merkel (C.D.U.)

“When I walk into a negotiation and must fear that the other side, a friendly democracy, already knows from espionage what I want to say in that negotiation, that’s no longer eye-to-eye.” —Martin Schulz (S.P.D.), president of the European Parliament

007, might be funny if the matter weren’t so serious. […] But this isn’t just about the chancellor’s cell phone. The much bigger concern is industrial espionage, which could cost European companies billions.” –ARD correspondent Rolf-Dieter Krause

In a wonderful interview given in German on the evening of Oct. 24, E.U. commissioner Viviane Reding said she’d heard that England’s government did not want European data protection but Poland, Italy and France had joined together to fight for it. Also: “Both of us, both the Americans and the Europeans, need this Transatlantic Trade Agreement. But to be able to negotiate an agreement, you need trust. I think this trust is no longer quite as present. That’s why the first thing that must be done is to restore that trust. And then, so that Europe can speak with a single voice, for that you need strong data protection that is Europe-wide. And that has to be the basis from which we can then move into negotiations with the Americans.”

“The whole time, Frau Merkel acted as if the affair was unimportant, as if it wouldn’t impact anyone in a big way. But then when it affects her, she gets upset? When all German burghers were affected, when it was about protecting burghers’ basic rights, she didn’t do anything then.” —Anton Hofreiter (new Green party co-chair)

“It is strange: umpteen million communications from Germans alone are recorded every month by British and U.S. intelligence agencies. With these extraordinary claims from the documents supplied by the ex-N.S.A. man Edward Snowden the snooping story exploded into public view last summer, but left the German government, and one must say most Germans as well, rather strangely unmoved. Then last night a single cell phone was added to the mix—OK, it was the chancellor’s—and suddenly all hell broke loose.” —Claus Kleber, moderator at ZDF heute journal

The new Bundestag scheduled an extraordinary meeting or special session [Sondersitzung] to discuss the N.S.A. spying affair in mid-November. All political parties also agree a parliamentary inquiry [Untersuchungsausschuss] is “unavoidable.” Many parties would like to invite Edward Snowden to testify before the committee, after which he can apply for asylum in Germany.

Update on 28 Oct 2013: On Thursday, Brazil and Germany will introduce a draft United Nations resolution against N.S.A. spying. FAZ.net reported that a large majority was predicted to approve it, and that though United Nations General Assembly resolutions tend to be nonbinding, unlike Security Council resolutions, the fact that Brazil and Germany are behind this and that so many of the 193 member states support it give it extra significance. Brazilian reporter Sonia Bridi from TV Globo said Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s government wants the world to make international regulations for internet access and international telecommunications such that no individual state can ever again have access to the world’s key communications hubs or nodes.

Update on 26 Nov 2013: The United Nations Human Rights Committee approved Germany and Brazil’s U.N. resolution against data spying. It will be sent on to the U.N. General Assembly, where the nonbinding resolution is considered certain to pass in December 2013.

“Today, for the first time, a resolution in the United Nations expressly specified that human rights have to be protected online just as much as they must be protected offline.” –Peter Wittig, permanent representative to the U.N. for Germany since 2009

(Newel   newel   ZEEB en.)

“Das Geld dafür geben die Anderen”

“Other people are paying for it,” how financial reporter Frank Bethmann commented the U.S. company Verizon’s “schwindelerregend” offer of $130 billion to buy out British partner Vodafone’s stake in their U.S. joint venture Verizon Wireless. In the 02 Sep 2013 announcement of the sale, Verizon said as part of it they intended to borrow $25 billion one week later at the currently very low interest rates; that would have been the largest amount ever borrowed by a company in the history of the world apparently.

Update on 12 Sep 2013: Verizon’s $49 billion Unternehmensanleihe [“company loan” i.e. corporate bond] “emission in eight tranches at varying interest rates and terms to investors around the globe” was the biggest ever, according to manager-magazin.de, adding that the takeover itself was also the third-biggest ever.

This is not the only vertiginous telecom merger in the works. There’s two in the German market as well.

On 23 Jul 2013, Spanish Telefónica’s German subsidiary O2 announced that it wanted to buy the Dutch KPN’s German subsidiary E-Plus, though “only” for five billion euros. The resulting company would become the German market’s largest mobile phone provider (43 million customers), followed by Deutsche Telekom subsidiary T-mobile (37 million customers) and then the British Vodafone (32 million c.). The merger required approval from German and E.U. competition authorities.

Update on 12 May 2014: The German Monopoly Commission [Monopolkommission] told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung they expect the E.U. to set serious competition-saving conditions for approving Telefónica’s acquisition of E-plus, including that there will still be four mobile telephony providers in the German market after the merger. “Abstract concessions and offers won’t do it.” Three mobile phone providers competing in the German market would not suffice because E-plus was the one that stirred up the market the most and it would be the one disappearing.

Update on 13 Sep 2013: Now British Vodafone is purchasing the Munich-based Kabel Deutschland, “Germany’s biggest cable network operator,” at ~8.5 million television households,” for ~11 billion euros (~7.7 billion for ≥75% of Kabel Deutschland’s stock and the rest to cover Kabel’s debts; stock cost to be announced Monday 16 Sep 2013), according to Spiegel.de and manager-magazin.de. This will increase Vodafone’s competitiveness with Deutsche Telekom in the German market selling wireless and landline telephonery, television cable and internet access. European competition authorities approved the deal on 20 Sep 2013.

Huge telecom mergers & acquisitions could be motivated by more than just the roseate future of voice and internet communications plus current rock-bottom interest rates. If telecom industry people believe governments will stop defending net neutrality and consumer privacy, they will fear they must join a large existing telecom and fight to expand it, or die. They will not think risky entrepreneurship or small-to-medium-sized companies are an option. If a telecom gets big enough in a deregulated market that includes suspicionless surveillance, the money will sort itself out somehow. In regulatory situations where governments have to grant unusual concessions to big telecoms, governments will grant unusual concessions to big telecoms.

(Doss   GELD   dah foor   gay ben   dee   ON dare en.)

Fluorwasserstoff, Ammoniumhydrogendifluorid, Natriumfluorid

Hydrogen fluoride, ammonium hydrogen difluoride, sodium fluoride.

What did your country’s companies export to the Assads’ Syria that could have been used to hurt civilians?

These are three of the chemicals German companies exported tons of to Syria between 2002 and 2006 that could have been used to make chemical weapons, at a time when the Assad regime was known to have a chemical weapons program.

The German government’s Ministry for the Economy [Bundeswirtschaftsministerium] drew up and published a list of such chemicals, including quantities, dates and prices, that could have been used to manufacture chemical weapons and for which the government issued export permits, in response to a question submitted by the Leftists party (Die Linken) and by Bundestag member and former U.N. weapons inspector Jan van Aken (Leftists) in particular. The government supplied this information one week before a national election.

Update on 30 Sep 2013: After the national election the government supplied more information. German companies were issued export permits for “dual-use” chemicals even until 2011, after the Assads were killing peaceful Syrian protestors. From 1998 to 2011, ~300 tons of such chemicals, which could be used for civilian or military purposes, were delivered from Germany to Syria. Klaus Barthel (S.P.D.) criticized the Bundeswirtschaftsministerium for, among other things, phased provision of the truth. The Bundeswirtschaftsministerium said they reviewed the investigation and remain convinced of the plausibility of the civilian uses cited, but the C.D.U. said plausibility is not enough when dealing with regimes like the Assads’. Reporter Arnd Henze said Germany has to be especially careful in these matters because the world knows that chemical weapons were produced in Libya and Iraq “with German support.”

On 01 Sep 2013 it was announced that Britain had issued licenses to export sarin gas precursors potassium fluoride and sodium fluoride to Syria in January 2012, ten months into the uprising against the Assad family. The export licenses were revoked in July 2012 after the European Union agreed to sanctions against the Assad regime. Prime Minister David Cameron (Tory)’s office initially responded by saying the U.K. has the the most rigorous export control regime, with a computer system called C.H.I.E.F., which is how they know that though the export permits were issued at that unfortunate time no chemicals were exported under the permits. Later it was indicated this was not so. Following up, Business Secretary Vince Cable (LibDem) subsequently reported that other licenses to export sarin precursor chemicals to Syria were issued by previous U.K. governments between 2004 and 2010 (the year Mr. Cameron’s Conservative-LibDem government came to power).

Update on 09 Jul 2014: U.K. foreign minister William Hague sent a written statement to the British parliament announcing that British companies had probably exported hundreds of tons of chemicals to Syria in the 1980’s that could have been used to make chemical weapons such as sarin and VX.

(FLEW or voss ah SHTOFF,   a MOAN ee oom hee dro GAIN dee FLEW oar EAT,   NOT ree oom FLEW oar EAT.)

Autonome Tötungsroboter

Autonomous killer robots.

A Süddeutsche.de article said for years now billions have invested annually in research and development of these types of weapons by the U.S.A., United Kingdom, Israel and soon China as well. The U.S. Navy for example is working on unmanned killer submarines. The U.S. Air Force notoriously has its drones. Companies like iRobot Corp. have been delivering land-based battle robots for years, on wheels, caterpillar treads, four legs and they’re working on bipedal. Post-mounted or mobile Samsung sentries (“SGR-1”) have been erected along the North Korean border that can now be set to automatically shoot anything detectable by motion, heat or, presumably, video-analyzing software.

Opponents of the technology say it’s only a question of time until remotely operated killing machines become autonomous decision-makers. The time for people to decide on an international framework for these types of weapons is now, said a United Nations expert on extralegal killing.

Sweden, wrote Süddeutsche.de, has called for an international test ban [Testverbot] on L.A.R.’s, lethal autonomous robots, asking each country’s government to announce a national moratorium on them and to unilaterally decline to manufacture and test autonomous killer robots.

(Ow! toe NOME ah   TƏ TOONGS roe BOT ah.)

Das SIGAD-Sharing

Signals intelligence activity designator sharing, i.e. data-collection-site data sharing between intelligence agencies from different countries.

Germany: Spiegel and Süddeutsche Zeitung reported that the German foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst or B.N.D., has been sharing on a massive scale communications data collected at e.g. its Bavarian Bad Aibling S.I.G.A.D. site with the U.S.A.’s National Security Agency. The data include mobile phone numbers that the B.N.D. admitted they’ve been passing on to the N.S.A. for years now supposedly under the strict condition that said phone numbers must not be used to kill people (e.g. via phone towers triangulation + drone strike); the B.N.D. also denied that it’s technologically possible to use for location purposes the G.S.M. mobile phone numbers they’ve been passing on (“G.S.M.-Mobilfunknummern sind für eine zielgenaue Lokalisierung nicht geeignet”). The German foreign intelligence agency furthermore is said to have given software it developed to the N.S.A. And the N.S.A. gave the B.N.D. its X-Keyscore software and X-Keyscore software training, including in “behavior detection.”

In an interesting parallel, the Washington Post report on 15 Aug 2013 about an audit of just a few N.S.A. branch offices which found thousands of violations of U.S. privacy rules each year also included a similarly scarcely credible excuse saying phone technology limitations were keeping the N.S.A. from snooping more: “One major problem is largely unpreventable, the audit says, because current operations rely on technology that cannot quickly determine whether a foreign mobile phone has entered the United States.”

England: The N.S.A. has apparently been paying money, such as 100 million pounds, to Britain’s G.C.H.Q., a disproportionately über-representational intelligence-gathering partner for a country of that size. The N.S.A. receives so much communications data from the U.K. that reporters said “it’s almost the same thing” whether G.C.H.Q. or the N.S.A. initially collects it.

(Doss   ZIG odd   CHER ingk.)

Der Dickmacher

The thickmaker,” sugar. On 23 April 2013 the European and German Cartel Authorities carried out razzias at sugar processing plant company offices in four countries for suspected price fixing from 2004 to 2011. Sugar’s well-meant but interestingly unusual regulatory status in Europe has led to a lack of transparancy that apparently made it possible for pricing questions to arise. By law, 15% of European sugar must be imported from developing countries. European farmers who grow the roots from which the remaining 85% is processed are guaranteed a minimum price, but at strictly controlled quantities. Sugar beet farmers have to sell their product to the sugar-processing factories; very little sugar is traded on the open market. The six largest sugar processing companies control 80% of the European sugar market, writes the Süddeutsche. Two German sugar processors control 40% of the European market. The processing factories set the prices, which do not always track with world sugar prices. German consumers have been paying between EUR 0.60 and 1.00 per kilo (annual consumption averages ~36 kg/year/German). Sugar root farmers were getting 27 euros per ton until 2012 when, after a good harvest, the price jumped to 45 to 50 euros per ton.

Update on 18 Feb 2014: The German cartel authority [Bundeskartellamt] has fined Germany’s three largest sugar manufacturers ~280 million euros for collusion. The companies Pfeifer und Langen, Südzucker and Nordzucker were fined, as well as seven individuals. Südzucker had to pay nearly 200 million euros but Nordzucker’s cooperation substantially reduced that company’s fine.

(Dare   DICK maw caw.)

Betongold

“Concrete gold.” Signs of an incipient housing bubble in Germany in statistics from ZDF heute journal, which reports that many investors, especially Greeks and Spaniards, are buying urban German real estate. They frequently pay in cash. Apartment sale prices are up 26% in Düsseldorf, 28% in Frankfurt/Main, 28% in Nuremberg, 50% in Hamburg and 73% in Berlin, according to the chart at 22:35. Financial reporter Sina Mainitz said low interest rates and uncertainty about the euro are helping drive the “flight into tangible property.” Unlike in the USA’s recent housing bubble, the Germans expect the ROI will be not from resale but from raised rents.

(Bay TONE gold.)

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